Jon Finch, the British actor who starred in Alfred HItchcock’s Frenzy and who had at one point been offered the role of James Bond, died at his home in Hastings, England on December 28, it was reported over the weekend. He was 70.
A stage actor by temperament, though he was able to bring his Shakespearean background to bear with his first major film credit, Roman Polanski’s 1971 adaptation of MacBeth. Prior to that, Finch had appeared in just a few British films. For the venerable horror studio Hammer Studios he appeared in The Vampire Lovers and The Horror Of Fankenstein (both 1970). His role in the drama Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) is notable in that he played a homosexual who was not ill at ease with his sexuality, a rarity for cinematic gay characters at the time.
Shortly after completing his work on MacBeth, Finch was hired by Hitchcock to play a down-on-his-luck, ex-RAF pilot falsely imprisoned for murder in Frenzy.
In 1972, after Sean Connery made his exit from the James Bond franchise, Jon Finch was approached to take over the series’s lead role of the suave secret agent in Live And Let Die, but he passed. That year he also passed on starring in Richard Lester’s big-budgeted The Three Musketeers. Reportedly, Finch was an actor who shunned the attention that came with being a movie star and that may have played a factor in his refusal of those roles.
Finch continued to alternate work on stage, television and film for a majority of the remainder of his career. In 1978 he appeared as one of the many suspects in the Agatha Christie adaptation Death On The Nile.
Ridley Scott cast him in the pivotal role of Kane in his science-fiction classic Alien, but Finch had to drop out on the second day of filming due to a life-threatening case of severe bronchitis. He would work with Scott again in 2005 on Kingdom Of Heaven, his last film appearance.
Some filmmakers like to drop little hints that some or even all of their films exist in a shared universe. The most obvious examples of this are the films of Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino as well as the Marvel Studios superhero films.
But is Ridley Scott silently creating a cohesive future history with his own science-fiction films? He could be based on this screenshot from the blu-ray release of Prometheus, Scott’s latest film. We know that the film is a functioning prequel to the Alien series, which Scott launched, but it appears now that it is also linked to his 1980 science-fiction classic Blade Runner.
Let’s look at the facts. Blade Runner is set in 2019. Prometheus is set seventy years later in 2089. The writer of the memo is Peter Weyland (Guy Pierce), who, given his advanced age in Prometheus, could very well be over 100. And it is very obvious to anyone who has seen Blade Runner (And you have, haven’t you?) that the memo is referring to the Blade Runner character of Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel).
This wouldn’t be the first time that a creator retro-actively included several thought to be separate works into a shared universe. Towards the end of his career, science-fiction grandmaster Isaac Asimov managed to link his up-until-that-point individual Robot and Galactic Empire/Foundation series of short stories and novels.
Granted, this could just be the inclusion of a joke by a graphics designer on the film, but there is a certain amount of fun in the thought that the two are actually related. And with Scott actively developing both Prometheus and Blade Runner follow-ups, perhaps we’ll see more connections in the future.
1. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (Paramount/Dreamworks, 4,258 Theaters, 85 Minutes, Rated PG): This franchise has become Dreamworks’ cash cow ever since the Shrek franchise bowed out, and since the franchise so far has earned over a billion dollars worldwide, it doesn’t look like it will ever stop unless it too bows out gracefully.
The animals are once again on the quest to return to the Central Park Zoo. Their trip home takes them to Europe, which they travel through by pretending to be members of a travelling circus.
I’d expect more of the same from this franchise. While I liked the first installment, I never saw the second and really have no desire to see this one. However, I’ll probably be in the minority for as long as it takes my daughter to get old enough to be able to watch the film. Then I’ll probably be dragged to the inevitable sequels.
2. Prometheus (Fox, 3,394 Theaters, 124 Theaters, Rated R): So, is this film a prequel to Alien, or is it not? The whole back and forth over that question is a brilliant bit of marketing. Ridley Scott coming back to the franchise that made his name would get attention no matter what. But if you haven’t seen any of the Alien franchise (and shame on you if you haven’t) then keeping this film clear of that franchise would make it easier for you to understand.
The latest I heard is that this film is a prequel if you want it to be a prequel, but can stand on its own if you are an Alien neophyte. The film contains elements that made the Alien franchise great (slimy corporate hangers-on, androids that are the most interesting part of the cast, humans poking there noses in places where they don’t belong, and catching hell for it in the form nasty aliens) but would appear to be not wholly beholden to that franchise’s continuity. In other words, the best of both worlds.
For a while now, Ridley Scott has been evasive about the exact connection between his upcoming film Prometheus and his 1979 classic Alien. Prometheus had originally started out as a straight up prequel to Alien, but then reportedly grew into something that was set in the same universe as the Alien films, but was only tangentially related with Scott stating that “keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak.”
In a newly excerpt from an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Scott has expanded on exactly how that DNA sharing will actually work –
The last eight minutes of the Prometheus story evolve into “a pretty good DNA of the Alien one.”
So will we wind up seeing some of the classic xenomorphs and facehuggers that the Alien franchise is famous for in this new film? Perhaps. Many of the unconfirmed rumors surrounding the film hint that the story will take its characters on a journey that ends with the revelation as to where the alien killing machines originated. And that could possible jibe with the film’s official story synopsis -
[I]n which a team of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a thrilling journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must fight a terrifying battle to save the future of the human race.
Scott goes on to address the mythological connections of the film’s title, the ancient Greeks’ story of a mortal who dared to steal fire from the gods and was punished for it.
The central metaphor of Prometheus is about a “higher being” (Scott’s words) who challenges the gods, and the gods don’t want to give him fire. “Fire is our first form of technology,” Scott says, and so by taking fire, the higher being is punished “in perpetuity in a horrible fashion.”
Some interesting hints and clues, which I am sure will become clear and obvious when Prometheus hits theaters on June 8, 2012.
Prometheus stars Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie, Rafe Spall, Logan Marshall-Green, Guy Pearce, and Patrick Wilson.
In conjunction with the British blu-ray release of Robin Hood, director Ridley Scott gave an interview to The Independent, which ended with some details about his upcoming Alien prequels. Some of it is previously known, or at least speculated about, and a few new tidbits about the production.
The prequel will be two films.
The films will be shot in 3D, and Scott adopts an air of friendly competitiveness when he states of James Cameron, who shot the Alien sequel Aliens - “Jim’s raised the bar and I’ve got to jump to it… He’s not going to get away with it.”
Lost co-creator Damon Lindeloff is currently polishing the script for the first prequel.
The film will be set some 30 years before the original Alien.
Exploring the origins of the titular alien killers, Scott promises that the prequel films will be ” really tough, really nasty… It’s the dark side of the moon. We are talking about gods and engineers. Engineers of space. And were the aliens designed as a form of biological warfare? Or biology that would go in and clean up a planet?”
While I am excited to see Scott returning to the franchise he created over thirty years ago, I have to admit to be less enthused about his return heralding an exploration of the aliens’ origins. A big part of what made Scott’s original film so powerful was the air of mystery about the alien that was stalking the crew of the Nostromo. We didn’t get a good look at it for a majority of the film, it striking out from the shadows. It was vaguely humanoid, but had a biology terrifyingly different than our own. It was an unknowable force of nature and that is what made it terrifying. Doing away with that mystery robs the alien of much of its power to frighten.
The last days of summer are winding down and you’re wondering what to do this Labor Day weekend?
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, with help from the Film Society of Lincoln Center, has brought together fourteen of the studio’s most beloved films like All About Eve and M*A*S*H back to the big screen on Labor Day Weekend to celebrate the studio’s 75th anniversary.
One of the most anticipated highlights for the weekend is Saturday’s screening of M*A*S*H. This year marks the film’s 40th anniversary and Fox is celebrating in style, rolling out a new print of the revered crackpot military satire. A Q&A session will follow; cast members Elliot Gould, Sally Kellerman and Tom Skerritt, and Kathryn Reed Altman (widow of director Robert Altman) will be available to answer all questions.
Some early Fox favorites have been dusted off and had the scratches removed – restored prints of Gentleman’s Agreement (1947), Elia Kazan’s stern look at American anti-Semitism, Niagara (1953), featuring Marilyn Monroe in one of her first leading roles, and the film that redefined ‘winning an Oscar’, 1950’s All About Eve will also have center stage at this weekend’s gala.
Rounding out the weekend, the 1963, over-the-top spectacle, Cleopatra, along with the intense star-spangled picture, Patton (1970), will be shown in a colossal 70mm widescreen format – as if you needed to see them any bigger!
Twentieth Century Foxhas made it a habit of capturing audiences hearts since 1935. Whether you recall Shirley Temple rocketing to fame at a very young age, or had a pin up of Betty Grable, 20th Century Fox was responsible. The studio gave you admirable gentleman like Henry Fonda and Tyrone Power and let you danced all night to the King and I, and Oklahoma. Oh, and admit it,you may have even embraced your inner geek with Fox films like Star Wars or Alien. Whatever your story is, you may not want to miss out on this weekend.
Full details about this weekend can be found here.
1. Twilight: New Moon (Summit Entertainment, 4,024 Theaters, 130 Minutes, Rated PG-13): Well, this film is finally here. The Twilight franchise is known to inspire strong reactions from people. Whether you are a”Twi-hard” who screams at the mere mention of Robert Pattinson’s name or a San Diego Comic Con goer who thinks the film “ruined” the con for you, you either love or hate the franchise.
I have to admit, I kind of lean towards the latter. I haven’t seen the previous film so I’m not basing it on personal experience. It’s just that there is nothing in the concept that appeals to me.
It’s not that I don’t believe a vampire romance can’t be good. The themes of undying love in this context are ones to be explored. But Twilight seems to examine it in the silliest way possible. It is more melodrama than drama.
Let me just show you what I mean. This is the plot description for the film of at IMDB:
Last time we see saw Bella Swan she was narrowly escaping the clutches of the evil vampire James while finding love with ”vegetarian” vampire Edward Cullen. Bella and Edward’s lives have been full of nothing but love and bliss however, it all changes one fateful day. On Bella’s birthday, her new found friend and sister of Edward, Alice, decides to throw her lavish party, complete with balloons, ribbons and cake that could feed an army. All is well until Bella accidentally cuts her finger whilst opening a present. The result is that Jasper Hale, the newest addition to the Cullen clan, succumbs to his blood lust and attacks Bella. Edward decides that while he and his family are around, Bella’s life will always be at risk. So he decides to leave her for her own good. Bella feels her life is over. Enter Jacob Black, a member of the Quilite tribe who manages to bring some joy and meaning back into Bella’s life. However as the two become closer, Bella discovers Jacob has a secret of his own- he’s a werewolf. As if that wasn’t bad enough Bella can’t seem to get the love of her life, Edward out of her mind. With new dangers, new friends and new enemies, Bella finds herself choosing between holding on to the past or accepting a new future. But what and more importantly who will she choose?
Vegetarian Vampire? Does this mean he only sucks the blood of vegetables? And. unless Bella was opening presents with a chainsaw, I doubt that a paper cut could generate enough blood to be visible, let alone cause a feeding frenzy. And of course the vampires competition for the girl’s heart would be a werewolf. It’s the next sexiest supernatural creature. You don’t expect Bella to be locking lips with a zombie, do you?
I’m sure any “Twi-hard” who stumbles upon this post will take me to task for dissing their beloved Twilight. To them I say, tell your friends, the site could use the extra hits. Other than that, I say I am happy you found something that you love so unconditionally. It just doesn’t have the same effect on me.
2. The Blind Side (Warner Brothers, 3,110 Theaters, 128 Minutes, Rated PG-13): I seriously think that Tim McGraw is being type cast. Between this movie and Friday Night Lights, he is cornering the “cinematic father figure to football stars” role.
One of the most touching stories to come out of the 2009 NFL Draft was that of Michael Oher. He was a homeless African -American youth taken in by white couple who rose to become a first round draft pick for the Baltimore Ravens.
A story like that seems a natural for a movie adaptation. And here that adaptation is. But is it a good film? I’m not sure.
The trailers seem to indicate that the film might be overdosing on the sentimentality a little bit. And the first few ads I saw made Oher look lie a Rain Man-esque simpleton, which is well-spoken interview leads me to believe that he is not. So, in the place of an inspiring story, we appear to be getting a sappy tearjerker.
3. Planet 51(Sony/Columbia, 3,035 Screens, 91 Minutes, Rated PG): I have to admit, I love this concept. It’s an alien invasion movie where we are the aliens. Instead of a bunch of little green men invading our planet, a human astronaut lands on a planet of little green men.
Now, the concept isn’t all that unique. Planet of the Apes had a similar plot up to the twist ending. But it does seem to be one that lends itself to CGI animation fairly well.
Of course, a good concept is nothing without the proper execution. This could be an awful film (although I find it hard to believe that any film that stars John Cleese and Gary Oldman, even if only as voice actors, can be completely bad).
Although, I have to say, I love the fact the alien’s family pet looks like the alien for the Alien franchise. That’s a nice touch.
1.Fame (MGM, 3,096 Theaters, 107 Minutes, Rated PG): Not a very good week for originality. We have a remake, what seems like it could be a remake, and a graphic novel adaptation. We will eventually come to a time when every film will be a different version of the same film, half of them starring Will Ferrell.
This is the remake of the 1980 film of the same name. I guess it still revolves around a group of kids at a performing art school.
The main characters are all unknowns, but the teaching staff appear to be a bunch of quasi-famous names, including at least one carry over from the original in Debbie Allen. So it’s got that going for it.
One of the most interesting things about this remake is that the original was rated R and this is rated PG. Have we come so far that what was an R in 1980 is now a PG in 2009? Or have they cleaned this up a little to try and appeal to the High School Musical crowd? Let me know, would you?
2. Surrogates (Touchstone, 2,951 Theaters, 88 Minutes, Rated PG-13): This would be the comic book adaptation of the bunch. It adapts the 2005 Top Shelf miniseries.
It is set in the future where humanity lives their lives through robotic duplicates. When these duplicates start becoming destroyed, a mystery develops.
This is a little deeper than your usual comic book film, dealing with the concept of identity in a digital world. Metaphor, proof that comics aren’t just for kids anymore.
How will this do at the box office? Well, who knows? The concept is good, but if Whiteout is any indication, comic book movies that the general public doesn’t know that much about don’t usually do that well.
3. Pandorum (Overture Films, 2, 506 Theaters, 108 Minutes, Rated R); Finally, we come to the one that should be a remake. Can you guess of which movie?
The crew of a space-faring ship discovers that there is an “Alien” presence aboard. They struggle to find out what it is and find a way to fight it before they are all dead.
At least that is what the ads make it out to look like. Perhaps the film doesn’t really resemble Ridley Scott’s Alien at all. I’m sure there is some kind of twist that separates the movies from each other.
What I am amazed by is that Dennis Quaid is in this. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that he’s getting work, but between this and G.I. Joe, it feels like he is really slumming.
1.Whiteout (Warner Brothers, 2,700+ Theaters, 96 Minutes, Rated R): When the graphic novel this film was based on was released first came out, I was led to believe that it was crime fiction, basically of a U.S. Marshall chasing a killer through Antarctica.
But certain ads for the film adaptation make it out to be more supernatural in nature., like Alien only with a frozen wasteland replacing outer space. So, I don’t know which is which, but just keep in mind that when you go see it that there might be a bit of the old bait and switch going on.
Also confusing is the scene in the TV ad where Kate Beckinsale is wandering around in her skivvies. I know Antarctic stations have to be heated, but it’s still got to be chilly. Put on a robe!
2. Sorority Row (Summit Entertainment, 2,500+ Theaters, 101 Minutes, Rated R): I’m not saying I approve, but comely young lasses are often the popular victims in these hack and slash movies. So, I have to ask, is this the first film set at a sorority house? It can’t be, can it?
Well, anyway, this film is a revenge vehicle along the lines of I Know What You Did Last Summer. Apparently, the sisters cover-up the death of one of their own after a prank gone wrong. Somebody doesn’t like this, and begins picking them off one by one.
The cast is somewhat interesting. The two most famous girls among the sisters are famous not for their acting skills but for being the daughter of a famous actor and actress (Rumer Willis, daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore) and staring on a “reality” show (The Hills‘ Audrina Patridge). Don’t fear, there is a famous name in the cast. Carrie Fisher has a role in the film, and any movie starring her can’t be all bad.
3. Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself (Lionsgate, 2,100 + Theaters, 113 Theater, Rated PG-13):Well, apparently the film world isn’t done with Tyler Perry yet. He’s been averaging two films a year, usually all are based on his plays. Will he ever run out?
Now, I have yet to see a Tyler Perry movie and I don’t think Mr. Perry would take time away from counting his money to be bothered by that. But I just don’t see the appeal of his films, from what little I’ve seen of their trailers.
Here is the summary for this film from IMDB:
When Madea catches sixteen-year-old Jennifer and her two younger brothers looting her home, she decides to take matters into her own hands and delivers the young delinquents to the only relative they have: their aunt April. A heavy-drinking nightclub singer who lives off of Raymond, her married boyfriend, April wants nothing to do with the kids. But her attitude begins to change when Sandino, a handsome Mexican immigrant looking for work, moves into April’s basement room. Making amends for his own troubled past, Sandino challenges April to open her heart. And April soon realizes she must make the biggest choice of her life: between her old ways with Raymond and the new possibilities of family, faith … and even true love.
Kind of all over the place, right? Yeah, doesn’t really appeal to me, even before considering that Madea is played by Perry in drag. But he does have an audience and a limitless supply of work to bring to the screen. So I doubt that we will ever see the last of him.
Director Ridley Scott is returning to the franchise he launched in 1979, Alien. The new film will be a prequel, which will presumedly look at how at relentless alien killing machines wound up on the crashed spaceship discovered by Sigourney Weaver and her crewmates in the first film.
Previously, Scott was only attached to produce an Alien prequel for studio 20th Century Fox, with commercials director Carl Erik Rinsch set to make his feature film debut with the project. However, Fox wasn’t happy with that arrangement and pressed for a personnel change.
While the news that Scott will be revisiting the Alien universe, I have to admit to some trepidation over the idea that the trip is for a prequel. A major portion of the terror generated in Scott’s original film was that there was virtually nothing known about the alien creature that leaps from the shadows, mercilessly decimating the unfortunates who got in its way. As we became more familiar with the aliens over subsequent films, some of their ability to scare us as an audience has diminished. Also, since the two Alien V Predator franchise crossover films take place in the present day, they could technically be considered to be prequels in their own right. There are even a few hints in them that point towards things since in the main Alien franchise. Since both Alien V Predator films are pretty much disliked by fans, they can be pretty much ignored by Scott though. (I call this the Highlander II option.)
On the plus side, the script is to be written by Jon Spaihts, after he successfully pitched both Scott’s production company, Scott Free Productions, and 20th Century Fox. While Spaihts has no produced credits on his resume, he has also written Shadow 19, which Keanu Reeves will star in for Warner Brothers, and Passengers, which has been purchased by Morgan Creek, also for Keanu Reeves. Both scripts are pretty good reads with some interesting ideas in them. Presumably, he has an equally interesting story in mind for this new Alien installment. It should be noted that Spaihts dance card is pretty full already – he is also rewriting The Darkest Hour for Fox, rewriting St. George And The Dragon for Sony and writing Children Of Mars for Disney – so what priority this receives remains to be seen.